Martin goes from homeless to rising singing sensation: "Mlindo changed my life"

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
In just a matter of two weeks, Martin Mphelo life has changed for the better.
In just a matter of two weeks, Martin Mphelo life has changed for the better.
Martin Mphelo / Instagram

It took just two weeks for his life to change. One day he was spotted on the streets of Johannesburg singing Anthony Hamilton’s Pray for Me, and the next he was trending for all the right reasons.

That one day changed his life. Martin Mphelo was living on the streets of Hillbrow when Mlindo The Vocalist took to twitter asking people to help him find the singer.

South Africans rallied together to find Martin, and it wasn’t long before he was connected to Mlindo.

Martin is a 26-year-old is from Polokwane who moved to Johannesburg looking for greener pastures after he had differences with his family following his release from prison.

“I’m a Venda guy from Polokwane. I’m the result of the very many bad decisions I have made. I come from a well-established family that basically provided me with everything I need, to a certain extent.

Read more |Kgosi Mongake on starring on ISONO: "I am dedicating this character to Moonyeen Lee"

“I was a little bit of a stout child and I misused my resources, in the process of all of that I got arrested for a bad fight and when I got out of prison things had changed. My life was no longer the same, my family was no longer willing to take me back and I had to figure things out for myself,” he tells DRUM.

Martin was arrested for assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and attempted murder.  He was sentenced to three years, and he served 18 months. Once released from prison he found himself a free man with nowhere to go.

“Four months into my homelessness I felt that Polokwane was not the land of opportunities and I moved to Johannesburg. I came to Johannesburg trying to find a solution to my problems. When I got to here, I realised there were so many people who were telling the same story. It became difficult for people to help me out because society had become accustomed to being lied to by homeless individuals – I was automatically shut out,” Martin says.

He relied on his talent to survive the harsh streets of Johannesburg and that is how he made money to buy food and keep himself alive.

“At first I used to rap for people so that I could eat but eventually I started singing because I realised they liked that more. It became a medium of survival for me. I tried to get a job, but things were not easy for me because of my criminal record and because I was homeless. I tried to get recognised, I tried to grab people’s attention, but it just never worked,” he recalls.

‘I was more accustomed to rejection rather than acceptance, everywhere I went people shut their doors’

Just when I had given up, some woman who works for the military took a video of me singing and to my surprise it trended, and she tagged Mlindo The Vocalist. And he asked people to help find me. At the time I was active on Facebook, I used the internet café but sometimes I would be too dirty, or I would not have money to go on the internet.

Read more | Sibu Jili on how joining The Queen changed her life 

“There were people who got hold of me through Facebook. I was shocked by the amount of people who have in-boxed and texted me. I eventually found Nyiko (who had also contacted him) and who is now my manager, and he took me to Mlindo.”

Martin has been spending time in between interviews and the studio, where he says he is recording music with the AmaBlesser hitmaker.

“My manager is quite impressed; he says I’m a natural. I don’t seem like I’m new to anything. It is a little overwhelming, I am learning, but at the same time I am doing well. I am humbled by the fact that just a week ago I was in the opposite situation. I do not have as my problems as I did a week ago, I have an easier time surviving,” Martin says.

‘The world is a little more forgiving than it was all along’

“I am more comfortable and driven to focus on the more positive things. I did not see this coming – I have so much to thank God for,” he adds.

Martin has had many people reach out to help him, from designers giving him clothes to people helping him land a job.

Martin will also be featured on a new show by Mandla N called The Score which will be aired on local TV screens soon.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24